Thursday, February 18, 2010


The village of Sorauren is easy to find, just drive six miles north on the road to Roncesvalles and you are there. The battlefield is equally easy to locate. The village consists of just one street, with the river Ulzama on the left and “Cole’s ridge” on the right. Jan is sitting on the by the road which leads to the river. Ahead is the French position of “Clausel’s ridge”

Jan is sitting on the left of “Cole’s ridge”. To her right the road to Roncesvalles, along which Cole retreated and Soult arrived. Sorauren is out of sight below the ridge on her left. This position was held by a Portuguese brigade, and when Wellington arrived their welcoming cries of “Douro! Douro! Douro!” caused the cautious Soult to delay his attack and allowed British reinforcements to arrive.

Another photo of Jan on “Cole’s ridge”. This was the scene of the main French attack by six divisions. The French reached the crest of the ridge but were driven back by the familiar British two deep lines which could bring 1200 muskets against the 300 forming the head of the French column.

This photo was taken on the extreme left of “Cole’s ridge”, over looking the village below and the road behind along which the British reinforcements would arrive. The French captured this area, but lost it again to a British counter attack.

This is the bridge over the river Ulzama, with the village on the far bank. The building to the right beside the bridge is where we would later have lunch. The French position of “Clausel’s ridge” is on the left and the British “Cole’s ridge” on the right. It was also where Wellington’s arrived and wrote his famous dispatch.

Jan stands in the same spot where Wellington wrote his hasty orders. The village is not much changed since 1813 and the bridge not at all. The dusty track is no longer a main road, but is easy to find and follow.

We were delighted to find a comfortable inn on the village side of the bridge, beside the river and within sight of the bridge itself. Throughout this holiday we found communication difficult. We spoke no Spanish at all, and none of the locals we met spoke any English. The inn owner was no different. We thought we had ordered an omelet, but were bemused to be served a plate of soup with a fried egg floating in the middle, and a plate of chips. However after our scrambles over the hills we were very hungry and enjoyed the strange meal.

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